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Keeping time
Topic Rating: 3 Topic Rating: 3 Topic Rating: 3 Topic Rating: 3 Topic Rating: 3 Topic Rating: 3 (1 votes) 
Coleshill, Warwickshire

January 10, 2013 - 6:27 pm
Member Since: December 15, 2011
Forum Posts: 1698
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How do you do it?

I'm currently Learning some new pieces for my upcoming ABRSM Grade 3 exam. (missing 1&2 and going straight in at the deep end)
I have been learning the pieces to tempo (or trying to) but even with the metronome in the background, trying to follow the timing is so hard.
Luckily YouTube has a version of the pieces so I now have the benefit of some one else's interpretation, but without them........

(here's a simple example.....

I was born with nothing,
and to my surprise I still have most of it left!

Merritt Island, Fla
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January 10, 2013 - 6:43 pm
Member Since: June 25, 2012
Forum Posts: 1281
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How to keep time? Even with the piece memorized and the tune firmly stuck in the head on auto play it can be hard to maintain proper time soloing without slowing at least a little without slowing down. The brain loves to play tricks. To learn to keep time you can try tapping your foot to the beat. Play with videos, other players or using that metronome is a great way to do it! Does your exam allow an accompanist? It would be easier to keep time if you had one. My tuner has a led light metronome with the ability to not make a sound and flash the lights rythmically. You could have something like that on your music stand when you play.

 I think it comes down to familiarity with the tune and how many hours of practice you have with it.

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.


January 10, 2013 - 7:21 pm
Member Since: January 25, 2012
Forum Posts: 657
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Good luck Terry. I can't pay attention to a metronome to save my life. I have had some small success with a visual cue, though. When I fiddle I concentrate on what I am doing and tune out the sounds around me. I could never be a strolling minstrel - I'd be flattened by traffic in no time!!

Advanced member
January 10, 2013 - 8:23 pm
Member Since: August 7, 2012
Forum Posts: 53
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I recently started practicing with a metronome and have almost had to relearn some of my goto songs. What helps me is to have the ticking right in my ear with an earbud in my left ear, my metronome is on my ipod. I can definitely tell my brain is trying to focus on two things at once but it is getting easier. 

I find that it helps greatly with fast songs but screws me up on slow songs.


A hoopy frood always knows where his towel is!

Tuticorin, India
Honorary advisor

January 11, 2013 - 1:24 am
Member Since: August 22, 2011
Forum Posts: 485
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Hi Terry! There is a software called speedshifter and you get it at abrsm's site.  Rest you can see at their site.

Get abrsm's cd for Grade 3 and play the cd through this software at any tempo.

Good luck.

If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it ..(William Shakespeare in Twelfth Night)

Russia, Tatarstan rep. Kazan city

January 12, 2013 - 3:57 pm
Member Since: October 7, 2011
Forum Posts: 2849
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I count out loud, while learning a piece. Use the metronome also.

Counting - is the most harsh and resultative way, as for me. And fun too. 

My teacher even ignores wrong numbers if i match the rhythm:

1 e and da 2 e and da 4 e and da 9 ....roflroflroflrofl

Mt. Fiddler
Adirondacks, NY

January 12, 2013 - 7:32 pm
Member Since: December 31, 2012
Forum Posts: 134
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Hey, I think that keeping time is either inherited and in the genes, or is acquired by force.  In order to really do it, it takes Slowing waaaaaaay down... almost to the point of causing boredom... but that's when you know you are doing it right.  My two cents.

January 12, 2013 - 8:11 pm
Member Since: March 14, 2012
Forum Posts: 1644
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I think playing with others really forces you to pay attention to keeping time. It's sort of a "team" mentality, I think. Gotta pull your weight for the team.


If that's not possible, a click track or metronome can help. Like peanut_gallery, I find it more effective to have the clicking in-ear.

What I don't like about a metronome is that it seems so unforgiving, so inhuman. Monotonous, even. I think when you play with other people, there's some natural, human variation and the musicians feed off of each other.

Just my opinion.

When the work's all done and the sun's settin' low,

I pull out my fiddle and I rosin up the bow.


January 13, 2013 - 8:44 am
Member Since: May 4, 2012
Forum Posts: 2379
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I also always found it much easier to play with other live musicians than to play to a metronome or click track.  Drum machines can be kinda in-between.

But playing with a metronome does get easier with practice. 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

Mt. Fiddler
Adirondacks, NY

January 13, 2013 - 10:07 pm
Member Since: December 31, 2012
Forum Posts: 134
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Of course my father (God rest his soul) taught me keeping time in a more old fashioned way... if I was on the guitar and he was on the fiddle and I so much as increased the tempo even by a little bit... I'd get an ear full about keeping appropriate time... and there were times the counseling was none too gentle.  I don't recommend the yelling approach nor the getting whacked by a violin stick either.

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